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Far west Channel, El Cap to Hondo, explodes with whales and dolphins!

2022 07-25 SB Channel – West

A mill pond glass surface and a high marine layer persisted throughout the excursion. A stunning amount of life was located in the far western Channel, and we closely watched: 12+ humpback whales, 1500 long-beaked common dolphins and around 100 California sea lions.

Although small pods of dolphins were seen all along the coast, there was an inordinate amount of biomass between El Capitan and Platform Hondo. The first whale, a single juvenile, was 5 miles south of El Cap. It had white pects and tail flukes, great surface times, and was boat-friendly. A distant breach to the northwest led us to larger assemblages of dolphins and whales in the Hondo zone.

A loose group of five whales included a cow-calf-escort (CCE) trio. This trio abandoned the fivesome and headed for a nearby dolphin-bird-sea lion hot spot. One of the remaining whales went into a “head stand” position and stayed vertical, head underwater and body/tail out, for about a full minute…seemed like an eternity. Many iPhones captures whale selfies (aka, whelfies).

As we moved to follow the CCE, a fresh pair of whales arrived on the scene. Shortly thereafter, the little CCE calf did a few tail-throws and pec slaps. All 3 of the CCE whales did a lot of trumpet vocalization. Many more whales were seen in the near distance.

On the way back to the harbor, running overtime, we passed a group of 4 more whales without a formal stop-and-follow session.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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